The co-founders of a new food innovation hub want to better connect food and beverage producers and consumers with high-quality, ethically-made products.
Intersection Traders are an ethical food business created by Adam Marley of Monastery Coffee Roasters, Eddy Collett from Sunlight Liquor and Daniel Gregg from the University of Adelaide’s Centre for Global Food and Resources. The group secured a tenure at the Lion Arts Factory on North Terrace in January to facilitate workshops, presentations, masterclasses and tastings. Intersection’s recently opened café at the site will expand on its current coffee, kombucha and pastry offerings to showcase a variety of ethically-sourced ingredients later in the year.
Marley says their aim is to bridge the accessibility gap between sustainable food and beverage producers and consumers.
“In lots of different ways, what we’re doing is connecting consumers and products more effectively, helping the consumer access what they want easier and helping producers receive a higher price and access a market more easily,” Marley says.
A project in the pipeline is a food lab that will be situated on the mezzanine of their North Terrace hub. This will be dedicated to research and information on topics ranging from supply chains and consumer markets to ethical food and beverage production. Agricultural development programs are also part of Intersection’s core business aims. The origin of this was an economic sustainability project with coffee growers in East Uganda by the Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research. This involved Gregg’s university colleague Randy Stringer, who brought the Intersection trio together last year to help him run it. Gregg says they continue to work closely with local coffee producers in East Uganda’s Kapchorwa province.
“We did a few field visits and worked out that there is potentially a simple and ethical solution to a lot of the issues in the supply chain [with] both the quality and payments issue,” Gregg says. “Our idea was to be able to monitor quality and to pay on the basis of quality right down to the bottom of the value chain. Instead of [relying] on people having different interests at each stage of the supply chain, we can rely on people to be interested in producing the best coffee because they’re rewarded for it.”
Marley says the coffee beans they have purchased from Kapchorwa will soon be used and sold at their café.
“We’re importing one tonne of coffee, which we’ve purchased up front,” Marley says. “We only bought lots where they paid the growers a similar percentage increase and the growers paid the pickers twice what their daily rate usually is. There were checks that everyone had to go through for us to agree to buy that coffee and it had to be a certain quality as well. We had a buying program, which we monitored in order to enable this, but that was just for the first year. We want to make it something we don’t have to be monitoring.”
Additionally, Intersection are establishing a new coffee washing/ processing station in Kapchorwa in June that will be owned and run by locals in partnership with a producer group once completed. Gregg says the facility will become a community enterprise where profits go directly towards a community trust to fund nutrition, education and health outcomes.
“We’ve signed a MOU with them, which outlines they’re starting up this enterprise, the profits from that go to the community and we’re going to support that and buy coffee from them and [assist] their buying program for at least the first four years,” Gregg says. “The whole idea is that we start with one washing station in the community and we try and allow them to expand that out and have community-run enterprises in [different] locations.”
Intersection will be heading back to Uganda later in October during harvesting season where they have agreed to buy approximately 14 tonnes of coffee from the washing station, which they want to sell to Australian Coffee Roasters and cafes around Adelaide.
Marley says they hope the project will make a long-lasting difference in the region. “With a lot of these things, when the project ends or the aid agency leaves, the money dries up and everything goes back to the way it was,” Marley says. “We want this to be self-sustaining.”